Flows first project goes public soon – exciting!!!!

The Cabinet of Local Change is a pilot for a future collection of ‘cabinets’ that will be commissioned specifically with touring in mind. This one is specifically for Forest of Dean residents.

Artist Simon Ryder (artNucleus) was commissioned by Flow Contemporary Arts to create a ‘cabinet’ in some form that could be used to reflect upon changes in the nature of the Forest of Dean, inspired by his own research in this forest and through engagement with local Community Library users. A key part of this process was for it to be made public via blogging.

The cabinet will make its first appearance on Thursday 29th August 2013 – Mitcheldean Library at 2.30pm and Newnham on Severn Library at 6pm.

Simon is concerned with peeling back the narratives from places, people and objects, then weaves  them together into new configurations in the form of sculptures, videos, texts and artefacts. Working together at Mitcheldean and Newnham community libraries, Simon and Carolyn opened up new ways of thinking about how libraries might operate. They shared blogging skills and how technology can provide opportunities for artists to reveal their working methods, as well as inform the making of art – technology and nature combining in the creative process.

Inspired by the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi in the forest, the outcome is fascinating. It is a unique storage system that appears to grow through the books on a shelf, like an organic extension, with partially enclosed spaces to contain ‘items that signal change’. Modular in its construction and open source (with the 3D templates freely available for download from the internet), Simon worked with the designer-makers at Millar Howard Workshop to produce a cabinet that can be flat-packed down for storage and touring. The cabinet is a portable work – it will make appearances at scheduled times, providing a beautiful and original focus for local discussions about change. To start the ball rolling, the first items to be placed in this cabinet will be printed copies of Simon’s blog, some books that informed his thinking, and a vial of water from St Antony’s well; the remaining spaces are empty, awaiting library users to add their own artefacts.

Flow Contemporary Arts works with both arts and non-arts partners to initiate produce and present contemporary art in unusual locations. Founded by Carolyn Black in 2012, Flow specialises in making things happen through the unique approach of commissioning artworks that respond to place, yet can also adapt to other contexts. If you wish to host or support the work in the future, contact Carolyn@flowprojects.org.uk

The project was supported by the Forest of Dean Local Action Group and the Forestry Commission.

scanning branches with X-Box, photo Chris Morris
scanning branches with X-Box, photo Chris Morris

press image Cabinet on shelf small

lag logo bar 72dpi

Supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas

and Forestry Commission FC logo_eng_linear_col

Sisters on Saturday: Symposium at SVA, Stroud. Sue Thomas; Semiconductor: Squidsoup; Simon Ryder The New Natural

new nature

This Saturday 25th May is going to be a very interesting day. As part of the SITE Festival, artist Simon Ryder is hosting a symposium to consider the future of nature – what do we mean by ‘new nature’? Is nature only what we already know of, and some feel, have damaged irrepairably, or might it be something unimagined and unforeseen?

My sister, Professor Sue Thomas, and I, find nothing unusual in such conversations. When I look back at some of the weird discussions and debates we’ve had over the table in the past, I have rarely stopped to wonder whether this is usual family fare. It’s our normal – which is what matters to us.

Intense dialogues about when we are online, do we ‘feel’ we ‘reside’ online? Is virtuality another geography? Where does fact and fiction begin and end? Does it end? We mostly agree. But what do you think?

I’m taking a back seat on Saturday while others enter similar discussions, chaired by Rob la Frenais, of The Arts Catalyst. It will be an intriguing conversation as it unravels the different ways we might consider New Nature.

The New Natural Symposium
Semiconductor, Prof. Sue Thomas and Squidsoup
Saturday 25th May 10.30am-5pm
SVA, 4 John St, Stroud GL5 2HA
Installation Friday 24th-Sunday 26th May

11am-4pm Goods Shed, Stroud GL5 3AP

Book now:

The New Natural is presented by Heart of Wonder in collaboration with SVA, and supported by Alias.

Tickets £12 including lunch and refreshments £20 for weekend inclusive of evening events. See SVA website for more details, or give them a call.

Booking is essential as places are limited 01453 751440 or email office@sva.org.uk

micro-residency for artist in libraries 6 weeks to respond by blogging, thinking, making

Today Simon Ryder and I did our first workshops in the two designated libraries in the Forest of Dean. Thanks to everyone that made it – it was a really fascinating day and everyone participated fully.

Simon will be blogging about this micro-residency – he has less than 6 weeks to respond to the forest and the unique nature of the place – both literally and metaphorically.

By meeting people and conducting personal research, he will become entrenched in a myriad of thoughts! I’ll leave him to share those thoughts in his blog – to get them sent to your mailbox regularly subscribe by signing up on his website.

Who knows, it may not be long before some participants from the workshops begin to start blogging too…..

Great mix of people  too – architects, engineers, librarians, ex-policemen, editors to name but a few.

Here’s a few pics by Forest photographer Chris Morris

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lovely new publication out today, images and texts and comments about ExLab from last year, free download

Projects like ExLab in Dorset take a while to reflect upon. As always, with art projects that are research led and installed at the last minute into their exhibition location, documenting them prior to launch is impossible. (I mention that on my home page and illustrate it with a series of slides from Dialogue Project of 2013). With the scattered sites, on beaches, in cottages and on cliff tops  we decided to produce a pre-show catalogue giving the backstory to the research and release  a later one that would share lots of lovely images, alongside comments from artists, visitors  stewards and others involved. It’s been set free today and I’m very pleased to be able to share it with you here, as a download. It’s always good to know the context of work as it makes the experience even richer on reflection.

As a growing story I think you will see how a has developed over the years, it’s a brilliant project. For good measure, and so that you can see the “Big Picture” – after all, it was Big Picture that commissioned ExLab, I’ve also made available the other 2 handbooks. See below for links.

ExLab 1 handbook 2010-2011

ExLab 2 handbook 2011-2012

ExLab 2 documentation  2012

Overlay by Mat Chivers